Egypt: CIHRS Director, Bahey eldin Hassan, sentenced to 15 years in prison

26/08/2020
Urgent Appeal

EGY 005 / 0820 / OBS 098
Sentencing /
Judicial harassment /
Reprisal
Egypt
August 26, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the sentencing and judicial harassment of Mr. Bahey eldin Hassan, Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS). Mr. Bahey eldin Hassan is currently living in exile.

According to the information received, on August 25, 2020, Cairo’s 5th Circuit Terrorism Court sentenced Mr. Bahey eldin Hassan, in absentia, to 15 years of prison [1]. He was convicted of “spreading fake news”, “inciting hatred against the state” and “defaming the judiciary” under Articles 80, 102bis, 171/5 and 184 of the Penal Code, and Articles 27 and 34 of the Cybercrimes Law.

The charges stemmed from Mr. Bahey eldin Hassan’s activity on Twitter and his advocacy activities during the 38th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in June 2018. The case file includes a Twitter photograph [2] of Mr. Bahey eldin Hassan speaking at a CIHRS-sponsored side event on torture in Egypt during this UNHRC session.

The case started with petition No. 7393/2018 and was referred to Cairo’s 5th Circuit Terrorism Court on January 21, 2020, after around 18 months of investigation.

The Observatory believes that this sentence is a reprisal for Mr. Bahey eldin Hassan’s continued work exposing human rights violations and promoting human rights in Egypt, including at the UNHRC in Geneva and in meetings with UN officials.

The Observatory recalls that this is not the first time Mr. Bahey eldin Hassan is targeted, and that he recently learnt, in March 2020, about a three-year prison sentence and a 20,000 EGP fine (approximately 1,188 Euros) which were handed down against him in politically-motivated case No. 5530/2019. The charges in that case stemmed from a comment Mr. Bahey eldin Hassan published on Twitter in March 2018, in which he criticised the Public Prosecution’s abandonment of its role in defending citizens [3].

The Observatory firmly condemns the sentencing and ongoing judicial harassment against Mr. Bahey eldin Hassan, which seem to be only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities and his exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

The Observatory calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Bahey eldin Hassan and all Egyptian human rights defenders.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Guarantee the physical and psychological well-being of Mr. Bahey eldin Hassan and all Egyptian human rights defenders in all circumstances;

ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Bahey eldin Hassan and all Egyptian human rights defenders, and ensure they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;

iii. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 1, and 12.2;

iv. Ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in all circumstances, in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments to which Egypt is a State party.

Addresses:

• President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Fax: +202 2391 1441. Email: p.spokesman@op.gov.eg, Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
• Prime Minister, Mr. Mustafa Kemal Madbouly Mohamed. Email: pm@cabinet.gov.eg 
• Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mahmoud Tawfik, Email: center@iscmi.gov.eg
• Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim, Fax: +202 2795 8103
• Public Prosecutor, Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, Fax: +202 2577 4716
• Head of the Egyptian parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Mr. Alaa Abed, Email: humanrightscomplaints@parliament.gov.eg
• Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council for Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670. Email: nchr@nchr.org.eg
• H.E. Mr. Alaa Youssef, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: mission.egypt@bluewin.ch
• Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88; Email: embassy.egypt@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Egypt in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, August 26, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
• Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

[1] Case No. 5370 of 2020 State Security.
[2] See: https://twitter.com/BaheyHassan/status/1011945152661934080?s=20
[3] See Observatory Urgent Appeal EGY 003 / 0320 / OBS 028, published on March 27, 2020, available here.

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